Folks in rural America often take pride in being good neighbors. Officials with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture hope this extends to pesticide and fertilizer use. A state run website helps producers prevent drift from pesticide or fertilizer applications onto sensitive crops.
But some critics say the site isn’t effective when it comes to influencing farming practices.
The Sensitive Site Registry allows commercial producers and pesticide applicators to register their land on a web based map. Tom Gere is with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. He says he would like to see more pesticide applicators using the site, and become more informed about area orchards, gardens, and bee sites.
“Say you cover a two county area, you can highlight that area on the map and then any time a landowner registers his organic crop for example, then he’ll get a notification, you know that there’s about another sensitive site in his trade area or the area that you cover,” says Gere.
After the site was created three years ago, Christopher Krause registered his family’s orchard near Glenn, South Dakota.
He says drift from herbicide causes hardiness in trees that prevents them from becoming dormant.
“You can hone it in and say ‘we’re here, pay attention’ but if that person just goes out and keeps spraying year after year it doesn’t make any difference whether the registry is there or not. Its nonexistence- if a guy, if he wants to spray herbicide at that time that day, he didn’t have any other time, that’s he does. He squeezes it in and it’s blowing to the north or south- so what. And I think that’s what a lot of the farmers or people who have sprayed for years, they think it’s nonconsequential,” says Krauze.
Krauze says putting signs up around sensitive fields could also combat the problem. But he believes stopping pesticide drift comes down to being a good neighbor.